As socialists who live and organize in a majority-minority city, we issue this statement in solidarity with Black and Brown organizers who have fought for so long and continue to demand racial equality and to say that
BLACK LIVES MATTER.
Philadelphia is the poorest big city in the country, with some of the highest rates of deep poverty, childhood poverty, and childhood asthma. The wealth inequality is striking and continues to be exacerbated by rapid gentrification and large institutions that manage to avoid paying taxes to our city. We have massively underfunded schools, public housing, and health services, among other vital city services and a stagnant economy that has just barely recovered from the Great Recession of 2008. This was the state of the city before a pandemic hit that is disproportionately killing Black and Brown people and has created historic rates of unemployment in the region.
Philadelphia is a violently racist city. Images of the city police helicopters raining teargas down on peaceful protesters evoked the memory of the MOVE bombing (this year is the 35th anniversary), when police used helicopters to bomb the home of Black liberation group, MOVE, killing 11 members, including 5 children, and burning down 65 homes in the neighborhood. Despite his cowardice of removing the statue at 2am which also denied our communities the proper acknowledgement of its long overdue demise, we still celebrated last week as Mayor John Kenney finally removed the statue of former mayor, police commissioner, and notorious racist Frank Rizzo, something that has been demanded for decades by Black Philadelphians.
In the midst of the uprisings in our city, the Mayor proposed a budget that sought to add $19 million to the police department. The same budget proposal slashes funding to vital city services that predominantly benefit Black and Brown Philadelphians. This includes $14 million in affordable housing services, 18% cuts to libraries, and lays off hundreds of essential city workers. Let’s be clear. This is a racist, austerity budget where the police act as the enforcement arm of anti-Black, racial capital. We call for the defunding and demilitarization of the Philadelphia Police Department. We call for the removal of the National Guard from our city. We call for the immediate resignation of Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw. We call for a budget that serves and cares for the most vulnerable among us. We call for the city to invest in clean, affordable housing, public transit, and fully funded schools no matter what zip code they’re in. Building climate resilience cannot happen with the militarized police terrorizing our city.
Our liberation is tied to the liberation of Black people and we stand in solidarity with the uprisings against the white supremacist, capitalist, imperialist United States. Rest in Power to George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the countless victims of racist, anti-Black, capitalism. Love and Solidarity forever.